Tofu

Spicy Legend, the Lunch Menu

Sometimes the best meals are the unexpected ones. A few weeks back the plan was to hit Mezbaan for their inexpensive lunch buffet. No luck…closed, on vacation. Plan B was Congee Noodle King, just down the road. While waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive, we noticed Spicy Legend right next door.

I’ve heard mention of their excellent AYCE Hot Pot but the lunch-only menu posted on the door was flush with intriguing items. Unfortunately, it’s only available from 11:30 to 2:30. Click on the image for a much bigger and clearer view.

As this was an unexpected visit, I was without my DSLR. I took a bunch of iPhone snaps but they just didn’t do the food justice. We returned a few weeks later for another meal and a batch of somewhat decent photos.

Spicy Legend is a medium-sized, very colorful room. Lunchtime, it seems is fairly quiet…at least on our two visits. I’m guessing the crowds come later for the AYCE Hot Pot.

To get things started, spice-wise, we were given a complimentary bowl of Sichuan snack treats.

Although many are mild, a few are crunchy sticks of dynamite. Sort of Chile Pepper Russian Roulette. A fun, albeit, painful start to today’s meal.

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Newsflash! There’s actually good Dim Sum in North Burnaby!

A couple of Fridays ago, my mission was to get the gang in the mood for Dim Sum. Part of that mission was also to do a reasonably priced Friday lunch. Nothing scares fellow diners off more than a continuing string of expensive meals. When I brought up Wah Lun Chinese Restaurant on Hastings in North Burnaby, the idea was met with, “Why don’t you try it on your own gut first“. You see, the internets are full of so-so opinions about this place. There are also a bunch of positive comments out there and because Burnaby is sorely lacking in decent Dim Sum restaurants, I figure it’s best to check out each and every one. In the end the “Let’s all give it a shot” sentiment won out.

So, on an absolutely horrendous rain-soaked day, seven hearty souls trundled to the northern reaches of Burnaby to see what was really up at Wah Lun.

The checklist menu here has most of the usual suspects as well as a boatload more. What jumped out right away was the assortment of interesting dessert items. Not just egg tarts and coconut jello here. Unfortunately, no one had room after the dim sum feast.

After many, many dim sum lunches of late, I figure I’ll order at least one or two items I’ve yet to try. There’s always the must-haves, but variety is…well, you know. One item here that caught my attention was the Deep Fried Crispy Seafood Salad Roll. Damn tasty. Not what we’d expected, tho.

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JB Malaysian

For this past week’s Sunday brunch we decided to mix it up a bit and veer away from the usual dim sum. Jefe came up with JB Malaysian in Burnaby. He hails from Malaysia, has visited JB several times and gives it a solid thumbs up. On that recommendation, Matty and I joined him for a mini-Malaysian feast.

JB Malaysian’s location is rather unfortunate. It’s just on the east side of the Royal Oak/Kingsway intersection. Traffic tends to fly past it’s tiny storefront. The lack of street parking isn’t helping neither. This particular room was the location of Penny Farthing many moons ago. Sure miss their killer fish ‘n chips…the real deal, right down to the newspaper wrap. Asian 54 and Miki Ramen then came and went in rapid succession.

The room is quite small seating maybe 25. We arrived Sunday afternoon to nearly a full, bustling house. Great sign, that.

We started with a couple orders of Roti Prata. Right about average, these were. Nice and greasy, a good chew but not near enough of the stretchiness of Bo Laksa King’s heart-cloggingly amazing version.

The accompanying curry dip was also workmanlike. A good depth with a hint of heat. It reappeared in the Kari Ayam (Malaysian Curry Chicken).

A fairly solid bowl. A bit too mild for my liking. I was hoping for more flavor bursts i.e. fennel seed, ginger, lemongrass to jump out…coconut, maybe? The chicken itself was OK. A few more minutes braising time would’ve done this dish a world of good.

The only other time I’d had Gado Gado was at Kedah House. Because it was part of their buffet, all the items were separate. So, if you’re like me, and had no idea how it’s assembled, your first try would be a minor, albeit tasty, disaster. JB’s Gado Gado was truly delicious. Big hunks of chewy, fried tofu covered with bean sprouts and julienned cukes, smothered in a rich peanut sauce and sprinkled with powdered peanuts. Great fresh flavors and textures. It’s not the most authentic version but it’s got enough decent elements to make it work.

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Ali Shan Taiwanese

Ali Shan is another one of those places I’ve walked by many times on my way into Crystal Court. I’ll pause awhile, peruse the colorful array of food photos, and keep on going. Finally, after many months, I stopped in for a quick lunch.

This is a small, comfortable and welcoming room that fills up fast over the lunch hour. It’s located on the south side of the mall, across from the library, right next to the entrance to the parkade from hell. Here’s a tip for whenever you want to hit Crystal Court…grab a spot at Station Square. It’s a short walk and it’s free. You will, however, miss the never-ending entertainment of circular parking.

***Since I started writing this (yesterday), Ali Shan has closed this location and moved shop around the corner. They are now two doors down from Green Bamboo, a big-time favorite of mine! The new store hasn’t yet opened. A server told me they plan on opening sometime in May.

This post is a compilation of three visits. The first two were solo scouting missions, the third one I dragged in Becky & The Gut for a table-filling chowdown.

Ali Shan’s menu consists mainly of cafe-style Taiwanese with a few hints of Korean and Japanese.

Dang. Too many good options. Being in the mood for something spicy (as usual) but not soup-wise, it took awhile to choose. Luckily, there was a big poster displaying the ”Spicy Stired Beef with Rice Cake”. Sounds good to me!

At first glance, I was just a bit worried. The tubes of rice cake looked to be on the hefty side. Turns out they weren’t at all…fantastic these were! Rather light, actually. They picked up the sweet and spicy sauce beautifully. A great plate, this.

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